Speaking out against violence in hockey

I have discovered that taking on the issue of violence in NHL hockey is not unlike taking on gun control in the United States.

There is a visceral reaction from some people, who seem to view fighting in NHL hockey as not just integral to the game, but to their rights as Canadians.

Since we aired a story yesterday about the brutal fight during the game between the Montreal Canadiens and the Toronto Maple Leafs on Tuesday night, I’ve been taking verbal punches on Twitter and Facebook.

WATCH: Dawna Friesen addresses the issue of violence in hockey during the Wednesday, Oct. 2 Global National broadcast

READ MORE: Gloves come off after Global News hockey report

In case you missed the moment, George Parros ended up face down on the ice, bleeding. He was taken away on a stretcher. Turns out he has a concussion and is out of the game indefinitely.

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The arena apparently went silent when it happened. People were shocked to see him lying there, looking lifeless.

So was I. So was my young son. We were watching it on TV.

I went on air the next day asking how I can explain to my son why it is okay to watch grown men beat each other up on the ice, when off the ice it would be considered assault. I said it seems absurd.

The verbal assaults against me began soon after. Liam Brown on Twitter called what I said “a shocking sensationalist opinionated rant.” Marian Grandy tweeted that I was “another mother who wants the world to do her parenting for her.”

Ross Millen tweeted “It’s a violent sport. The players know what they’re risking when they drop the gloves.”

Warren wrote: “Fighting in hockey is a reality, it’s part of life in Canada…”

And then there were the rude comments, calling me things like a dumb ‘b**ch who knows nothing. I got the feeling some people were so angry they’d like to punch me.

Which is what this whole thing is about.

It’s not about hockey, it’s about violence. Hockey is a great game — a game of skating and skill.

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WATCH: Former NHL tough guy Jim Thomson wants fighting out of hockey

What happened to Parros raises the issue of good sportsmanship and controlling your temper and having zero tolerance for violence in professional sports.

I am not alone in my view that fighting has no place in NHL hockey. Among the vitriol directed at me, there was support too.

Viewers like MAC wrote, “In no other team sport is fighting tolerated, period. Not rugby or football or polo or cricket or baseball or basketball, etc. All of these professional sports have thrived without tolerating the kind of serious assaults that we see in the NHL.”

And L, Kelly wrote “Today it seems the hockey enforcers are on the ice to hurt & maim as many fellow hockey players as they can. Should that same person do that on the street, he would be arrested, charged & sentenced. Fighting, the kind of fighting they do during hockey games now, does not belong in the game.”

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It’s the view of Commissioner Gary Bettman that baffles me the most.

He has said fighting helps “keep the game honest.”

Honestly? That’s the message he wants to send to kids coming up through the ranks? Why not tell them to concentrate on their skills, and to outplay the other guys, instead of resorting to punching them out?

Bear-baiting used to be popular too.

Corporal punishment of children used to be commonplace.

We’ve come to realize neither of those are acceptable.

I’d like to think we’ll soon reach the same conclusion with fighting in the NHL.

And as a Canadian and a parent, I make no apologies for making my views public.

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